Will Bunch: Can a Woman Control Her Own Body and Her Own Narrative?

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This week, we will witness the spectacle of a panel of grumpy old men listen with disdain and disgust to a female professor who will testify about an assault on her body by a potential Supreme Court Justice. The grumpy old men have made their minds up. Their ears and minds are closed. Many of them sat in judgement in the Anita Hill testimony in 1991 and rejected her graphic description of crude, vulgar, completely inappropriate behavior. Despite her credibility, these men confirmed Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.

Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Inquirer explains the importance of this moment.

“The immediate stakes of the drama that has played out over this weekend — whether Dr. Blasey will tell her story alleging a sexual assault by a 17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee who could bring a conservative jurisprudence for the next generation, and whether that will torpedo his Senate confirmation — are so high that it’s easy to lose sight of the much bigger cultural moment that’s taking place here.

“This is a cultural and psychological battle that’s taking place — about what kind of society America wants to be in the 21st century and beyond. Sure, Republican senators like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — so determined to ram through Kavanaugh before he’s even heard one word of this woman’s story, with their initial demands that Dr. Blasey testify only on their terms, at a date, time and place of their choosing — are executing a short-term and shortsighted political strategy. But more and more people, especially women, are seeing things for what they really are: An ancient patriarchy clinging to what it’s always done in the past: Control the narratives of women.

“Except there’s good reason to believe that this time the creaky old gears of the patriarchy machine are finally breaking down, that Dr. Blasey will tell her story on her terms, on her chosen date, and with millions of women watching her back. Men are terrified…

“The more we learn about Dr. Blasey, the more she comes across as a credible, compelling woman with a story that America needs to hear. We already knew that she told her account of the assault to her therapist and her husband earlier in this decade, that she named Kavanaugh as her attacker and that she told other friends in 2017 before Trump named the judge as his SCOTUS pick. She was willing to take a lie-detector test (not admissible as evidence, but she passed) and she also wants an investigation by the FBI, which is known to criminally charge people who don’t tell them the truth. From an excellent profile in the Washington Post and other news accounts, we’ve since found out that whatever happened in that suburban bedroom 36 years ago, Dr. Blasey was so traumatized that she insisted that her bedroom have a second exit, and that she even considered leaving the United States upon learning that Trump had Kavanaugh on his short list of picks for the High Court.

“It’s the other side, the Kavanaugh side, that has played prevent defense, in a full-blown cover-up mode from Day One. It’s Team Kavanaugh, with the full backing of the Trump White House, that has thwarted an FBI probe that could get to the bottom of the allegations and which had always before this been standard operating procedure, including in the infamous Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas showdown of 1991. That’s in keeping with a process in which a record number of documents have been hidden from the public, with a Republican Senate accelerating everything to 110 mph after slamming the brakes for a whole year on then-President Barack Obama’s failed court pick, Judge Merrick Garland.
What was the real reason for this confirmation process on steroids? Why such an effort to spin Kavanaugh from Day One as “America’s carpool dad” and trusted coach of 15-year-old girls’ basketball players? How could Team Kavanaugh round up 65 female contemporaries from the judge’s younger days to vouch for him in a matter of hours after Dr. Blasey’s allegation dropped?

“What exactly did they think was coming down the pike for a judge who joined both a fraternity and a private club at Yale known for their heavy boozing and skirt-chasing, continued bragging about his wild, partying law school days well into adulthood, and was said by the well-known Yale law professor to prefer female law clerks who had “a certain look,” like a model?…”

Read the rest of this excellent reflection.

Bunch says these old men are trying to shut up Dr. Blasey. They have announced that they don’t care what she says.

Like putting their hands over her mouth.

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